Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hard Choices for the Second Sunday in April

Weather permitting, April tends to be a good month for spending Sundays in the park. However, April 9 will provide several opportunities to lure serious listeners into a concert hall setting. As of this writing there will be three choices, each beginning at a different time in the afternoon. In chronological order the options are as follows:

3 p.m., Herbst Theatre: Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet will be making his San Francisco Recital Debut in the first of the four April concerts to be presented in the Chamber Music San Francisco (CMSF) 2017 season in San Francisco. Bavouzet is no stranger to those who frequent Davies Symphony Hall. He made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in October of 2012, performing Béla Bartók’s third piano concerto with visiting conductor Vasily Petrenko on the podium. Almost exactly two years later he performed in two separate programs during a visit by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with their Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski. His selections for those two concerts were Sergei Prokofiev’s Opus 26 (second) piano concerto in C major and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Opus 43 rhapsody on the last of Niccolò Paganini’s 24 solo violin caprices. As a recording artist he released an impressive five-CD “collectors edition” of the complete piano music of Claude Debussy on the Chandos label.

That latter achievement will be represented when he will conclude his CMSF recital with Debussy’s “L’isle joyeuse,” which he has programmed to serve somewhat as an “appendix” to his performance of Maurice Ravel’s five-movement suite Miroirs, which includes the original piano version of “Alborado del gracioso” (the jester’s aubade), which is better known in the orchestral version that Ravel subsequently prepared. Bavouzet’s more recent recording projects have turned to the sonatas of Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, both of whom will be presented on the first half of his program. He will begin with Haydn’s Hoboken XVI/46 sonata in A-flat major. That will be followed by the first two of the three sonatas that Beethoven published as his Opus 10, the first in C minor and the second in F major.

The entrance to Herbst Theatre is on the ground floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Ticket prices are $51 (Orchestra and Boxes), $42 (Dress Circle), and $33 (Balcony). Tickets may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page, which includes a floor plan that shows the number of seats available in the different sections. In addition, it is still possible to save $4 on each ticket with the purchase of a mini-series of four or more concerts. The best way to do this will be to contact CMSF by phone at 415-392-4400, but there are also hyperlinks on the Subscription Packages Web page through which one can create a PayPal shopping cart of mini-series selections.

4 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: Like this month’s concert, next month’s offering by the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) will feature artists based in the Bay Area. Hallifax & Jeffrey is the duo of Peter Hallifax and Julie Jeffrey, both viol performers. They have prepared a program entitled Big, Beautiful and French: Music for Several Viols and Continuo. The will be joined by two other gamba players, Josh Lee and Marie Dalby Szuts. Continuo will be provided by John Lenti on theorbo. The program will survey French composers with particular attention to Marc-Antoine Charpentier, as well as both Louis and François Couperin, Marin Marais, and Michel Corrette. This will be the final offering of the SFEMS 2016/17 concert season.

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. General admission is $40 with a $36 rate for seniors and $34 for SFEMS members. A Web page has been created for online purchases of single tickets.

5:30 p.m., Taube Atrium Theater: The third of the four concerts being offered in the 34th season of the Schwabacher Debut Recitals, presented jointly by the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program, will offer an interesting departure from the usual format. The vocalists will be mezzo Renée Rapier and bass Anthony Reed, both Merola alumni with experience as Adler Fellows; and they will be accompanied at the piano by the San Francisco Opera Head of Music Staff John Churchwell. The title of the program will be The Woods: A Rom-Com Recital. Reed has compiled a collection of songs by American composers of both art song and show tunes and structured them around a narrative for which he has provided original dialogue. That narrative will then be realized through staging by first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Aria Umezawa. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first time that a stage director has contributed to a Schwabacher Recital; but this will be an opportunity to take advantage of the flexibility of the Atrium Theater space.

The Taube Atrium Theater is part of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, which, like Herbst Theatre, is located in the Veterans Building (on the fourth floor) at the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. General admission will be $30. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through an event page on the San Francisco Opera Web site. Note that, because much of the seating is raked, it is possible to select the option of Wheelchair Accessible seats. In addition, subject to availability, student rush tickets will go on sale at 5 p.m. at the reduced rate of $15. There is a limit of two tickets per person, and valid identification must be shown.

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